Genue Inc.
November 29, 2017

Inspired by Structure

Often, pattern design and textile design go hand in hand. Most pattern designers are, or have been, textile designers at some point. The two disciplines compliment and play off of each other, so it is very difficult to keep them separate. In fact, all fabrics–even if they aren’t adorned with a beautiful print–are made up of some form of a pattern.


I know what you’re thinking–how is that possible? In what world could a plain white sheet be considered a piece of “patterned” fabric? The answer lies in the way the fabric was made. Most fabrics, whether they are knit, woven, etc., have some kind of structure in which the fibers interlock with each other.



For example, in a knitted textile, the yarns loop around themselves, creating various textures, lines, and shapes. In fact, most knits do not have anything printed on them, but they are often rich with interesting patterns! This is because of the knit structures that physically build the fabric. By knitting and purling, the yarns go over and under, creating amazing visual effects. It’s a high-impact look that is based solely on the way in which yarns interlock with each other.



Another example is woven textiles. I’m sure by now you are saying, “Of course a sweater has plenty of pattern and texture, but a sheet doesn’t have any of that!” Not so!  While the pattern is not nearly as visible, it is certainly still there. The most basic type of woven textile does, in fact, have a pattern: it’s called plain weave.  In this particular fabric structure, the yarns go over and under each other in a perfectly even way, creating a grid. Often, however, the yarns are so fine that this grid is almost invisible unless you look at the textile up close. Nonetheless, it is there to be discovered if you really look!


Textile structures are so inspiring to me. Sometimes, it is in a very literal way; designing prints that mimic various textiles can be a lot of fun! For example, did you know that houndstooth is not actually a type of print? It’s actually a woven structure!  The yarns create a unique shape when woven together in a specific way. Nowadays, this look is often re-created through prints.  “Faux” fabrics are very trendy and so interesting to design.


Of course, this is not the only way that structures can inspire. As a textile designer, you often need to consider the kind of fabric quality your pattern design will be printed on.  Will you design stand out on a smooth satin? Or does it need a little bit of grit with a textured crepe? The kind of textile, especially the structures that make it, can give your pattern design that extra “oomph” it needs to make it really special!


Do you ever consider textile and structure when you design? Try playing with different qualities for your patterns and see what happens! Happy designing!

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